We’d planned to head south into lower Michigan, but when we realized just how close we were to Canada, we decided to crack open the passports for a quick visit first. We crossed the border at Sault St. Marie after a long line and quick wave-through at customs. On the Canadian side, the Visitor Centre plied us with maps and booklets and all sorts of information about Ontario, but we only had a few days to spend there. So we headed up the Lake Superior coast towards some of its most prized provincial parks.
Provincial parks are not so geared for big rigs. Which is one more reason for me to like Canada, except for the fact that we have this pretty big rig now. The first two sites they gave us we could not squeeze Bessie into, and by the third time I stood in line at the office, I was fuming with a touch of whine. We’d wasted two hours of a beautiful afternoon trying to get a spot, and the place was filling fast. Then the patient young ranger put us up on the hill in the “quiet zone.” It was further from the beach, but was nearly empty and our new spot fit Bessie just fine.
We quickly set up and walked down the hill to the beach, where Bailey swam and we chatted with friendly campers and took in the incredible scenery. It was warm and sunny, and the lake was so calm. Canadians are generally easy-going and friendly people, but this weather brought out the happy in everyone, and it was just what I needed after our rough start.
The next day promised to be hot, and we planned for a full beach day. In the morning, we got out our blow-up canoe. Bailey was so excited to see it, she hopped as soon as we rolled it out on the beach and we had to coax her out so we could inflate it. We paddled far beyond the campground, hoping to spot a moose or bear on a quieter shore. We didn’t, but being out there in the canoe with the warm sun, cool water, absolute quiet… it was pure bliss.
After lunch, we came back to the beach, this time hauling chairs, a sun shelter, books and towels, and our tiniest cat. This was Gypsy’s first introduction to sand and first thing she did was try to eat it. All afternoon we gloried in this marvelous place, this perfect weather. Gypsy was content to be near us in the shelter. Bailey was happy being off leash in the dog area and swimming at will. When we got too hot, we jumped in the lake. When the sun got lower, I lay in the canoe and drifted. We didn’t leave until the sun disappeared behind the trees.
The next morning, typical Canadian weather returned, and we realized just how lucky we were to have two hot, sunny, still-water days on Lake Superior. It was cool, gray, and windy. The lake that had been so inviting before was choppy and dark, big waves crashing on the beach. Rain was predicted. We decided to pack it in and drive further north to check out one of the campgrounds in the next provincial park.
The first campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park is Crescent Lake. This is not a place for RVs. But we didn’t know this when we took the exit. (Hey, the sign included a trailer icon.) For the next 40 minutes, we were stuck driving this narrow, rutted-dirt, branch-thwapping road till we got to the end where we could unhook and turn around. We were too frustrated to even appreciate the beautiful little lake with a few obscure sheltered sites.
Instead, we went to Agawa Bay Campground. We got one of the last sites in the crowded park, and it was right near the road, but we were grateful for a spot. The provincial parks fill up very quickly in the summer. (Tip: Bring plenty of 30-amp extension cords to provincial parks. Electrical hookups are shared between sites and often a long ways from your rig.)
We took Bailey and Gypsy on a short drive up to a hiking spot where there are ancient petroglyphs (called pictographs in Canada). Unfortunately, no dogs were allowed on the trail, and Gypsy was not settling into her sling bag. The hike was fairly short, but rocky and steep, so Kate stayed in the car while I went to check out these pictographs we’d heard so much about.
Apparently these ancient rock drawings are best viewed while swimming in the lake. Or risking your life to edge yourself out on a slippery rock ledge. I went out as far as I felt comfortable, but decided I could live without seeing them. Instead, we drove back to the Visitor Centre next to our campground where we saw photos of them and spent some time exploring a wonderful museum.
By now the fur kids were getting antsy, so we took them to the beach. Dogs are only allowed at the far end, and we had the whole place to ourselves. The sun had come out, and Bailey fetched ball after ball in the water. Gypsy was timid at first, but before long was skittering across the sand between us and following after Bailey.
After dinner, I spotted pink in the sky and hurried to the beach in time to catch a beautiful sunset. This was such a quick visit here. We only saw one small piece of this park; we could have stayed for weeks. But when we woke the next morning to gray skies and icy wind, we were so grateful that the few days we had here were some of the best the area’s had this summer.